The first 100 races, part 1
Like a new president's first 100 days in office, the first 100 races of the season tell us a lot about what we can expect to see in the next four months. To start, let's look at where the winners so far have last raced. I wanted to begin with this topic because I've noticed that horses I liked on paper from Evangeline Downs didn't seem to be doing much. Maybe the surface there was faster than normal this year, or maybe the speed figures are inflated in general, who knows? These first 100 races don't tell us anything definitive, of course, but I know that horses who made their last start at Evangeline appeared in more than half of those contests so far and have won only six.
Being that this is the first time I've handicapped Fair Grounds every day I've been taking too much of what I see in the PP's at face value. I have a lot to learn, especially in terms of which small-time trainers and owners are the most serious threats. It's often hard to look past the usual suspects like Asmussen, Amoss, Autrey, Calhoun, Stidham and Stall, but that's also the only way we're going to hit some nice licks. We've seen a lot of the smaller stables winning races so far and we need to figure out how to get on board with more of them.
In terms of the races that horses here are exiting, it would make sense to think that with all the additional purse money generated by slots revenue in this state that the horses coming out of Delta and Evangeline would be more competitive than ever. We haven't seen that yet this season. Despite a huge difference in number of starters, the first three weeks of the meet have seen as many winners who last raced in Chicago as those that last raced at Evangeline. In the state-bred races, especially, horses who last tried Evangeline have been well-represented and, often, well-bet. For the time being I am content to let them try to beat me.
Where the first 100 winners last raced:
31, Louisiana Downs
10, Fair Grounds (mostly off long layoffs dating to last season, as opposed to having two starts already this meet)
6, Churchill Downs
6, Evangeline Downs
3, Delta Downs
2, Arlington Park
1 each, Presque Isle Downs, Lone Star Park, Remington Park, Retama Park, Ruidoso Downs, Santa Anita Park, Zia Park
And, surprisingly, 10 were first-time starters. The maidens with racing experience don't appear to have any advantage.